Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Anti-Nazi League (ANL) was an organisation set up in 1977 to oppose the rise of "far-right" groups in Britain. It was at its height between 1977 and 1981.
The organisation was allowed to run down before being revived in 1992 and merged into Unite Against Fascism in 2004. Its founder members included Peter Hain (a former communist party member; then the communications officer of the postal workers' union UCW, more recently a prominent Labour MP), Ernie Roberts (deputy general secretary of the engineering union AUEW) and Paul Holborow (of the Socialist Workers Party).
Most of the ANL's activities in the 1970s were in opposition to the National Front, an organisation led by John Tyndall who had a long history of involvement with openly fascist and Nazi groups. The ANL also campaigned against the British Movement which was a more openly Hitlerite grouping. In the 1990s it main efforts have been to oppose the far more moderate British National Party.
The ANL carried out leafleting and other campaigns against Far Right groups which it claimed were not just racist but fascist; see BNP and British National Front. The ANL was linked to "Rock Against Racism" in the 1970s, and worked with a similar group, "Love Music Hate Racism", from 2001 onwards.
The ANL argues that Nazis do not have "rights" to spread Nazism and that both the British National Front and the British National Party have been led by John Tyndall, who has a record of involvement in openly Neo-Nazi groups, and convictions for violence and incitement of race hatred. This criticism may be valid; however, the BNP is no longer led by John Tyndall, and critics feel that the ANL's response failed to address the point that freedom of speech is either universal or non-existent.
The ANL responds to this by saying that in no country is freedom completely unlimited. Most democracies regulate pornography, defamation, individual privacy and intellectual property, for example. The ANL also argues that the BNP remains a Nazi party irrespective of the fact that it has adopted what the ANL describes as the Dual Strategy of cultivating respectability in the media while retaining a cadre of committed fascists. In response to this, critics point out that 'democracy' expressly means freedom of choice for voters of all strands of political opinion, and, whereas banning pornography does not affect a democratic political system, banning political parties does. In response the ANL points out that Nazis ultimately seek to supress freedom of choice for voters of all strands of opinion except fascism, and that a blow against such an organisation is the defence of freedom of choice for the majority.
In its first period, 1977-1982, the Anti-Nazi League was run by an elected committee nationally and similar committees throughout the country. Many trade unions sponsored it as did the Indian Workers Association (then a large organisation), and many members of the Labour Party and MPs such as Neil Kinnock.
The Anti-Nazi League was best known for the two giant Rock Against Racism carnivals of 1978: involving bands such as The Clash and Tom Robinson, they saw 80,000 and then 100,000 people protest against the National Front.
A small legal National Front election meeting was taking place in central Southall. As several thousand demonstrators gathered to protest outside, members of the Metropolitan Police Special Patrol Group attempted to disperse the protesters. A scuffle broke out, and during this exchange, Blair Peach received a blow to the head. The Anti-Nazi League alleged that this was from a police truncheon but this has never been proved.
Some elements within the ANL opposed the winding up of the organisation especially those described by the Socialist Workers Party as Squadists. After being expelled from the Socialist Workers Party some of these elements formed Red Action and with others organised Anti-Fascist Action, who had a much more open view to using violence.
But in 1992 the Socialist Workers Party relaunched the Anti-Nazi League due to the rise of the British National Party and that party's electoral success. The ANL has recently affiliated with the Unite Against Fascism group alongside other groups such as the National Assembly Against Racism .
The ANL's Leadership
The ANL's National Organiser is Weyman Bennett, who is a member of the Central Committee of the Socialist Workers Party. Its previous National Organiser was Julie Waterson who is also a member of the Socialist Workers Party and a former member of the National Executive of the Socialist Alliance.
Dozens of Labour Party (UK) MPs are members of the ANL and many like Peter Hain have been members for many years. The ANL has close links with many Trade Unions, many of which have affiliated with it.
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details